June 16, 2011

Gardening with Mr. C. - Save money with DIY gardening.

Mr. C. "branches out" from vegetable gardening this week to discuss fruit trees.

If you have a sunny space* and are willing to make a long term investment of time, energy, initial cost (ex. Agway has six-eight foot trees in 12" tubs for $35 each or 3 for $90) etc, you can enjoy fruit tree blooms each spring and fruit for years.  When selecting trees, be sure to check with a knowledgeable salesperson and/or read the tags to determine which ones are "self pollenating" and which ones require a "pollenator".  All the trees that Agway sells are suited for our area (ie. zone 4/5 - 4 for the cooler valleys, 5 elsewhere. Note: the north pole would be zone "0"). All their peach and nectarine varieties are zone 5 except "Red Haven"  which is tagged zone 4/5.  Pear, apple, and cherry (the varieties I chose two of each of for my mini-orchard) are all for zone 4.

My oldest and largest two are "prune-plum" trees which grew from suckers from the roots of a doner tree**.   Two springs ago I added 6 semi-dwarf trees (spring is the best planting time). I planted in two staggered rows (to maximize space) about 10 feet apart in all directions. This is enough room for the trees* and for my riding mower. In spite of rocky soil, I dug the recommended size holes, about two feet deep and wide (with top five inches enlarged to three feet across with five inch edging to keep grass and lawn-mower away). I put the dirt in a wheelbarrow, removed the rocks, and mixed in compost (you can omit or use other organic matter peat moss, etc). Partially fill the hole and firm gently to eliminate air pockets. When properly planted, the soil line of the trunk should be at or slightly above ground level. Water before, during, and after you fill the hole.  Soak the soil often throughout the summer.

*For standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf tree height and recommended spacing for different varieties click here.

**My non-grafted trees send up suckers from the roots that replicate their parents.  I have rescued some of them from the mower by digging them up, protecting them in my garden nursery until they were established, and given them away. If you are willing to wait several (8 to 10) years for them to mature, you may request rescued trees.

Disclaimer: I don't claim to be an expert on this or any other subject - but I'm glad to pass along what has worked for me over the years.

Mr. C.

If you have any questions or comments for Mr. C., please post a comment below or email him at savingandsharingit@yahoo.com.

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